4.1 Million Jobless: GOP Finds Revolt on Unemployment Benefits

Joplin, Missouri after a tornado killed 132 people

SUDDEN REVOLT ON JOBLESS BENEFITS. In December a $850 bill with a healthy tax cut for the rich was passed. Then, Paul Ryan put out a budget that effectively ends Medicare and would cost seniors $6,000 more per month. Then, with 9% unemployment, House Republicans began to tinker with $31 billion in unemployment benefits days after arguing against providing corporate welfare to the billion dollar oil industry. National Journal reported today that corporate profits are doing just fine: “The recovery is going just fine for corporate profits. Aided by efforts to get more production from labor spending, U.S. companies banked $1.7 trillion in profits for the first three months of 2011, or 1.3 percent higher than the previous quarter.”

Rep. Miller

With this narrative in place, anyone who is caught trying to assist the poor or the unemployed is labeled a “socialist,” as tax breaks for the wealthy are just groovy.  Additionally, just this week House Republicans are questioning how disaster aid to Joplin, Missouri will be paid for after a tornado killed 132 people. No member of Congress I spoke with yesterday can remember such a question being asked see this at the time of an American natural disaster during their time in Congress. read here

$31 BILLION ON JOBLESS BENEFITS. House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp was palnning to bring a “jobs” bill to the floor next week that would have “given states flexibility” with $31 billion in federal unemployment aid. Giving states “flexibility” really means that governors could have used the mone for something other than providing unemployment benefits to the unemployed. Then, suddenly, yesterday there was a delay. The legislation was suddenly removed from the calendar for consideration. Now we know why.

Having been yelled at for weeks by constituents on the Medicare issue and then watching the traditionally GOP voting NY-26 be won by Democrat Kathy Hochul, some GOP House members are asking: Why are we voting for this? House Ways and Means Chiar Camp is now suddenly unclear on the timing of when the bill might be brought to the floor.

Rep. George Miller of California, who was the Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor until the GOP took the majority in January, released a pointed statement after, “House Republicans delayed consideration of their own bill that would have eliminated this year’s federal guarantee for extended unemployment benefits after a revolt within their caucus. A House GOP leader called it an “education” problem, saying that their members didn’t understand the bill that would threaten unemployment insurance benefits for 4.1 million out-of-work Americans.”

“Jeopardizing the unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans apparently went too far even for some House Republicans who are already feeling the heat from their vote to end Medicare…. ending Medicare, cutting nursing home care, attacking Social Security, and now trying to take away unemployment benefits, while not creating a single job but giving tax cuts to the rich and to oil companies – I can see why that would be hard to communicate to the American people desperate for solutions.

“Middle class families are trying to recover from a recession that wiped out their economic security and the Republicans answer is to attack the only support system left — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment benefits and access to health care. Republicans don’t need to change their message; they need to change their policies.”